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FTTH costs are coming down, but Australia provides a reality check

FTTH costs are coming down, but Australia provides a reality check

Cost remains one of the key barriers to deploying fibre in Europe. [..] The FTTH Council Europe’s most recent figures, from September 2016, show that there were just 20.5 million FTTH/B subscribers in the European Union.

Set-up prices could be reduced by 12 percent through the reuse of existing infrastructure and implementation of the EU’s Cost Reduction Directive – a range of proposals including equipping new builds with fibre and simplifying permit processes. This is a “conservative” estimate and notes that the EU thinks twice as much cost could be taken out.

Much of that outlay is upfront, civil engineering works take between 70-80 percent of the total. Techniques such as micro-trenching are also helping to bring expenses down. Study commissioned by ADTRAN found that FTTH is still “five to six times more expensive than copper alternatives”.Nokia, puts engineering costs at nearer 90 percent of the total.

Australia case study:

But Tony Brown, Public Affairs Manager at nbn in Australia, was on hand at the show to demonstrate just how difficult reaching this end goal can be.

The wholesale company was formed in 2009 with a promise to deliver FTTH broadband to 93 percent of premises but quickly found out that this was an almost impossible promise to keep.

A target to connect one million premises by 2013 was missed by a whopping 85 percent.

The reasons for the company’s troubled start were varied, but the deployment costs Brown revealed were startling.

While the average is around €3,000 per premise, he cited one farm in Tasmania that nbn spent around €60,000 on in order to bring fibre to its door.

The eye-watering sums and lacklustre deployment schedule forced a rethink and nbn is now embracing the likes of G.fast and fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) to reach its new target of providing speeds of 50MBps to 90 percent of premises “as soon as possible”.

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Piotr Mieczkowski

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